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More: Villa Pizzorusso

Puglia, Italy
09.18.2012 | by: Meghan

When we arrived at Villa Pizzorusso, I was a little confused by the exterior color of the house–a no-excuses shade of amaranth pink that didn’t seem, at first, to fit the house. But after my first dusk between the rows of olive trees, twisted and giant, showing their age in their outstretched branches, I understood. Everything turns pink–the light, the land, the silvery leaves. I was lucky enough to take a couple bike rides through the groves during this magical time of day just before night, and I thought I’d share some of my photos of the countryside and even a few from within the walls of the masseria courtyard.



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Italy Bound and Random Stuff

08.24.2012 | by: Meghan

We’re in Italy right now. First Puglia, where we’re staying in a fortified masseria with citrus groves and walnut and persimmon trees growing in the courtyard. Then, we’ll travel up to Civita di Bagnoregio to stay in Patrizio’s just-finished cave house in the Etruscan town he calls one of the “most beautiful and noble places on earth.” His passion for this ancient place feels contagious and sincere, poetic even (“It has the appearance of being built from gold and silver – the gold of the Tufa rock in the cliffs and houses, the silver of its basalt paved streets.”), and I’m looking forward to sharing our experience when we get back in two weeks. Until then, some travel inspiration to keep you busy:

>> This interview with Australian photographer Sharyn Cairns. Her Cuba series is heart-gripping for those who like beautiful crumbling things.
>> The menu from the restaurant at this lodge in North Haven, Maine. Chef Amanda Hallowell uses food from the local farm, Turner Farm.
>> You haven’t seen the last of this Leelanau Peninsula historic b&b, Hillside Homestead. Would love to take a farm class.
>> A feature I contributed to in Food & Wine about the best places in Italy to stay/eat.
>>  This Herriot Grace film about Nikole’s dad. I love the part where he talks about his cabin: “That is where my soul is. When I drive in that driveway, the rest of the world doesn’t exist.” That’s the truest form of getting-away-from-it-all travel.
>> These Anchorage finds from Matthew Hranek’s trip to Alaska.

 

Design Road Trip

Amsterdam-Bad Wildheim-Lugano-Milano-Basel-Paris-Amsterdam
08.16.2012 | by: Meghan

Travel notes from an expert: One of designtripper’s contributors, Ben Lambers (of Amsterdam’s Studio Aandacht), put together this rad little flow chart from his European design road trip. He and his wife and partner, Tatjana, were headed to the Salone Internazionale del Mobile in Milan, but their course could be cribbed any time of year. Highlights and hotel favorites include the Vitra Museum in Germany and Mama Shelter in Paris. Take notes.

 

Round-Up: A New Batch of Favorites

06.14.2012 | by: Meghan

It’s been a bit of a whirlwind since designtripper was featured in this The New York Times story about curated travel a couple weeks ago. Every since, I’ve been inundated with an endless stream of submissions detailing farmhouses, country b&bs, family summer cottages, mountain yurts, mammoth island complexes, and even a floating ferry boat house. While I’m certainly not complaining, there’s no way I can possibly write about all of them–much less visit (although thank you very much for all the lovely invitations). I did, however, finally have time to sift through hundreds of beautiful photos and browse websites. Below, a quick round-up of some of my favorites.

1. Located on a 150-year-old family farm in rural New York (the Genesee River Valley), the Granary is a charming, three-bedroom country guesthouse that once housed wheat and oats. Now, it’s a simple retreat surrounded by wildflowers and wide open farmland, which cultivates hay, corn, wheat, rye, organic vegetables and lavender.

2. The Maison d’Être is a four-bedroom house in rural France dating back to the 1500s. Set in the ancient village of St. Cirq Lapopie (a World Heritage site) and surrounded by an ancient stone wall, the place has the medieval fairytale aesthetic pretty much nailed.

3. A family-run hotel in Oia, Santorini, Greece, Esperas Traditional Houses have 18 suites, studios and cave houses built into the sides of the cliffs overlooking the fishing village of Ammoudi. It hardly matters–given gasp-inducing views of the Aegean Sea–but I really love how imperfect and traditional the interiors look.

4. New York-based brothers Ronan and Colin Hannan opened this small, luxurious hotel in a western Belize rainforest a few years ago. My favorite detail is that they hired local carpenters to handmake all the furniture from local hardwoods.

5. I will stay here one day, mark my words (I’m the daughter of a Navy man, who knows every story of every significant boat to sail the American waters in the last hudred-plus years).  The first ferryboat on Puget Sound, the SS  City of Seattle, now called the Yellow Ferry, is a 116-year-old, double-ender, side-wheel ferry boat berthed in Sausalito. It has been in the same family for 55 years, but sadly, the owner passed away a couple months ago. As a result, her children, who can’t bear the thought of selling the place, have made it available for rent–and if the history isn’t compelling enough, the interiors are spectacular. Please stay here.

6. You can never have enough places tucked away for your next trip to New York City. This Federalist townhouse is located in the West Village and has a pretty fantastic atrium-like living room and lush rooftop terrace.

[This also seems like a good time to mention my editorial policy: Content cannot be bought. I have never been paid to write about a specific place. I have done a couple sponsored posts, but I choose where I stay and what I write about. Thank you again for all your interest!]

Stay: Casa Ninamu Revisted

Sayulita, Mexico
03.06.2012 | by: Meghan


Last week we got back from a week at Casa Ninamu, which I wrote about last year after meeting the lovely owners Anne Menke and Johann Ackermann and their three delightful, tow-headed boys. Staying there was a different kind of experience. It was less about the beautiful interiors–with built-in stucco sofas; colorful, handcrafted Mexican textiles; and cobalt blue walls that popped against the lush jungle surrounding it–and more about how we spent our time doing almost nothing at all.

There are so many things I love about the town of Sayulita that I never anticipated how much I’d enjoy staying just outside it. Aside from the thundering waves breaking on the beach (loud enough to wake me up on occasion), the insects and birds chirping up a storm, and the creature-rustling of the flora outside, there is absolute silence. It’s a quiet so deep, it makes a swaying palm frond sound louder than an ambulance hurtling down a city street. Most days, we wake up slowly–with a view of the ocean out the wide-open bedroom doors–and drink coffee, make breakfast and read, while our kids draw at the dining room table (also with a view of the ocean). By midmorning, the kids are swimming naked in the saltwater pool, chasing butterflies, hunting for iguanas and planning the day’s sandcastle design and fortification. We indulge in avid shell collecting, rock climbing, sand burying, crab chasing and jungle exploring, including a hike to a nearby town that was rerouted by high tide up a densely-forested Monkey Mountain over the course of six dreadful hours. Later we laugh about it. Much later. My five-year-old invented a game that involves throwing a fallen coconut into the waves and waiting for it to come rushing back onto the shore, prompting a highly competitive chase-and-grab element. And it’s not until day seven that I realize we never made it to those restaurants we wanted to try, or organized a tour of the nearby cliffs and hot springs we heard about. Instead our entire trip was an endless pleasure cycle of lazing about–pool, play, eat, nap, hammock, beach, repeat. The very best kind of travel, an actual vacation.

Revisit: Longman & Eagle

Chicago, Illinois
01.12.2012 | by: Meghan

For New Year’s Eve this year, my husband Ryan and I made a last-minute trip into Chicago to stay at Longman & Eagle. I’ve written about the proper six-room inn above the Logan Square restaurant of the same name–both here and for the magazine I used to work for, CS Interiors–so I’ve had a tour of all the rooms, interviewed the owners/designers, the works, but I’ve never actually stayed there. Being in the space overnight as a guest gave me a chance to really appreciate all the thoughtful little details that make staying there there such a special experience (beyond the fact that the rooms and furniture were all designed and built by one of the owners): handmade wooden drink coins, mixed tapes, custom wooden speakers, chambray sheets made by the local company Unison, hanging terrariums over the bathroom sink, wallpaper in the restaurant bathrooms made from black and white pages of an old magazine, a minibar filled with snacks like Gunslinger beef jerky. Aside from a quick stop at the MCA to see the Andrew Bird and instrument maker Ian Schneller collaborative exhibit, Sound Garden (on its last day), and our favorite haunt in our old neighborhood (The Rainbo), we didn’t leave Longman & Eagle. We didn’t need to. We ate dinner there (a special New Year’s Eve tasting menu) sat at the long wooden bar for an after-dinner drink, and hung out in the room (I read the entire Logan Square Literary Review) before heading back downstairs in the morning for the kind of meaty brunch that makes men out of boys. I opted for the PRB breakfast sans PBR, which felt kind of wimpy considering some of the other, more daring options (spicy brioche with bacon pudding!). But I was craving something simple, and it was damn good.

Stay: Wandawega Teepee

Elkhorn, Wisconsin
12.28.2011 | by: Meghan


Tereasa from Wandawega emailed me a few months back after reading the post about the Red Welly in Wales, saying that she was “so getting a teepee.” And true to her wildly ambitious, girl-who-never-sleeps form (see her treehouse for proof), she had the thing ordered, erected and decorated in a month’s time. It’s officially the coolest designtripper-inspired spawn of the year.

Tucked away in the woods, just past the Boy Scout tents, the Craigslist-snagged teepee is kitted out with seagrass flooring, a futon, and vintage cooler, antique hurricane lantern and Navajo rug from her regular hit-list circuit of flea, yard and barn sales. The whole production is pretty much a knockout, and I can’t wait to stay next summer. I’d like to think I’m tough enough to brave a winter weekend, because, technically, it’s an all-weather teepee with a fire pit, but I think I’ll be really honest with myself and save the experience for the snow-free months. Happy New Year! See you next week.

Stay: The Beer Moth

Highlands, Scotland
12.06.2011 | by: Meghan


After Honor & Folly opens, maybe I’ll start thinking about another project — a converted truck b&b? This place is genius. The industrious owner/designer of The Beer Moth cobbled together some walls and the interior of this 1956 Conmer Q4 using oak parquet floor rescued from a Tudor mansion, a salvaged snooker table slate as the hearth, and a freestanding farmhouse door. Add a pretty cool-looking Victorian bed, a worn leather armchair and some cooking utensils and done. You don’t need much more to appreciate the mountainous view at the sprawling Inshriach estate, which used to be a shooting lodge in the early 1900s.

[PHOTOS: Canopy & Stars via Design Hunter]

Check In: Hotel Amour

Paris, France
11.01.2011 | by: Meghan

There are so many things to say about Paris. I’m not sure I can add much that hasn’t already been rhapsodized to death. It both embodies and defies its stereotypes (yes, those stylish French ladies do wear a lot of stripes! yes, those baguettes are a little bit like heaven! no, French people aren’t all elitist snobs!)–visually, emotionally… gastronomically–and can completely take you in, make you love or hate it, depending on the block. The most special part of this trip was exploring a new neighborhood– one that we stayed in, thanks to expat Anne Ditmeyer, who already wrote about the Hotel Amour on designtripper.

For us, it wasn’t just about the hotel, although for the record, it’s everything Anne promised it would be plus a little more. It’s stylish yet markedly unfussy (in a “we’re way too cool to care about interiors, perhaps you might enjoy the ironic Micky Mouse statue at the front desk with a giant penis”-sort-of-way); really, really laid back (as in “you might wait a half an hour before we take your order, but we promise, it will be totally worth it.” It usually was. And the servers all wear football jerseys, strangely, and denim skirts, yet somehow it doesn’t feel nauseatingly contrived), and the grandest of all perks, it’s located in the center of the 9th arrondissement, which is full of the most beautiful food shops I have ever seen. Charcuterie stacked to the ceiling, sausages wrapped in towers and hanging by twine. Fresh fruit pyramids. I could smell the strawberries from half a block away. Patisserie after patisserie, each one more delicious-looking than the last. Endless fromage shops. There’s even a shop solely dedicated to confiture, La Chambre Aux, which sells confitures, marmalades and chutneys in infinite combination: raspberry with flower, clementine with vanilla, fig with cognac, pear with ginger. There are so many great restaurants in Paris, but we hardly left our neighborhood for food, unless it was to take our bulging market bag to a destination park for a picnic. And they close the street on Sundays, so you can do your shopping!

I have been to Paris a handful of times, but this neighborhood made me fall in love with it again. Like experiencing it for the first time. Is that another Paris cliche? I think I’m OK with that.

Scenes from Brussels

10.28.2011 | by: Meghan


From the top: 1. Stumbled upon the Parc de Bruxelles at night and it was glowing neon blue and green with these colorful pendants strung in the trees, and a bunch of street acrobats doing some rogue nighttime jumping and rolling–most absurd, magical unplanned part of the trip. 2. Store called Hunting and Collecting. Sort of a scrappier Collette in concept. 3. A bedroom at the Musee Horta Museum–the home of Belgium’s father of Art Nouveau architecture. I got scolded for taking photos, but not before I captured this beautiful wallpaper (and a urinal that unfolds from a bedside closet!). 4. Like every other significant historic building at time of visit, the Grand Place was under construction. I love how colorful the scaffolding crutches are! 5. After a morning at the daily flea market at Place du Jeu de Balle, we grabbed breakfast at this fantastic cafe on the square filled with locals. 6. Best find: K.Loan, an industrial-leaning antique shop on Rue Blaes. Most beautiful, well-styled vintage store I have ever seen. 7. A long-standing institution of a beer hall, Mort Subite was named after the sudden-death card game obsessively played by a bunch of bankers 80-something years ago. 8. The cathedral at Grand Place all lit up at night. 9. Brussels has amazing street art. 9.  10. A reco from a friend: “Find the pomme frites stand (the one that looks the most ridiculous) and eat fries where kings have been killed.” Duly noted.

Check In: Concept Hotel

Brussels, Belgium
10.25.2011 | by: Meghan

With three big bedrooms and a shared living room and kitchen, the Concept Hotel should really be called the Concept Inn or B&B. But semantics aside, the place is perfect. Even its inconspicuous perch above a chocolate shop smack in the center of Grand Place–a location I would usually eschew for its touristy appeal–felt charming and not the least bit cheesy. It was really something special to come home at night, the square of Gothic, Baroque and Louis XIV 15th- and 17th-century buildings all lit up with glowing gilt, and quietly let ourselves in through a dark, closed chocolate shop. An ancient, rustic wooden spiral staircase let us up to our room like a secret passageway, where we could admire the spectacle high above foot traffic.

The owner, Arnaud Rasquinet, who rents the space from the government is not a designer; he laughed when I asked him. The space is so old and beautiful, he explained, that the interiors need very little–a few pieces of simple furniture, lamps and some well-chosen framed photographs and wooden antiquities that he picked up at local shops and flea markets. His first “hotel” fills up so regularly (Le Coup de Coeur) that, about a year ago, he decided to open a second one down the street. Every morning the guests sit around a table in the kitchen (one of the most beautiful rooms) for a simple, delicious breakfast–local jams, cheese, meat, croissants, bread and fresh-squeezed juice. There’s a window of four hours to get breakfast, but like clockwork, all the guests ended up showing up at the same time every morning, each of us equipped with a different language, our few common words forming an unlikely semblance of conversation. It seemed a fitting way to start the day: struggle outside your comfort zone; make effort despite feeling a little stupid; discover commonalities and great pleasure and satisfaction. I love when a place gives you something more than a place to rest your head.

The Details
Prices start around $165 (breakfast included). Reserve a room at concepthotel.be.

Stay: Honor + Folly (Soon!)

Detroit, Michigan
10.05.2011 | by: Meghan


Within ten minutes of meeting Sharon, the owner of the Marston House from Monday’s post, I was standing in her cutting garden full of wild flowers spontaneously confessing my dream of opening a small bed and breakfast in Detroit.

She said she’s been reading about Detroit, and all the people who are rebuilding the city. She told me to do it. No, she insisted I do it. She told me that there are people who dream and people who do things, and it was that summer afternoon in Maine that I knew I would open Honor + Folly. I’ve been so inspired by all the people and places I’ve been writing about for the past year, I’ve decided to join ’em. I don’t have photos yet (besides the exterior shot above), and you’ll have to bear with me while I paint, stock, source, sand furniture, adorn walls, make beds, knit pillows and hang a shingle.

This doesn’t necessarily mean designtripper is changing. Traveling is eye-opening and thrilling, and I will always be drawn to the sense of adventure and discovery that comes with exploring a new place. But I also feel a strong pull to be more active and present in my own community, in my own neighborhood. Detroit, for all its problems, is hands-down the most creative, life-affirming city I’ve ever been to (if you don’t believe me, watch this). I’m proud to say that about the city I call home, and I am excited to share it–here and with travelers.

In the meantime, I’ll continue to post regularly about imaginative, thoughtfully designed vacation homes, b&bs, small-scale inns, and family-owned hotels that inspire a different, more intimate kind of travel experience than a big hotel can provide. And who knows, maybe it is possible to be a dreamer and a doer, both. Stay tuned for updates!

Stay: Marston House in France

Apt, France
10.03.2011 | by: Meghan

A few years ago, the owners of the Marston House, which I visited this summer on our annual summer trip to Maine, bought part of a grand, old house–in complete disrepair–in the historic center of Apt, France. After a year of “dreaming and designing,” they began slowly renovating as three separate holiday rentals. So far, there’s a one and two-bedroom apartment, with a third apartment on the way. Below, a Q&A with Sharon Mrozinski about the process.

When did you buy your first place in France?
We bought our home in Bonnieux in 1999. We had discovered this area, the Luberon, in the early ’80s and had felt an awakening in these sleeping ancient ruins. We felt as though they were all yawning waking from a deep sleep.

Paul was fascinated by the structure and materials used,  all earth-born and local ( right under your feet). He had never seen anything like these. There seemed to be no beginning or end,  somehow continuous and completely organic and unlike any structures he had studied while getting a degree in Architecture at Arizona State University. We dreamed of returning one day.

What attracted you to the apartments in Apt?
We fell in love with this rawness and lack of modernization and the grandness of it. The entry and staircase are huge showing obvious great wealth at one time, and we bought what we thought we could afford. In 2007, we began some serious remodeling after a year of dreaming and designing. We knew we could stretch it into three lovely apartments. We have one apartment left to finish on the ground floor, and it is the most amazing space. The stable will become the bedroom.

Where do you find all the beautiful furnishings?
We source the furnishings locally from dealers in Apt and Isle sur la Sorgue. We spend most of our time and buying in a 30-mile radius of our apartments in The Luberon. The entire region about 20 miles long is surrounded and covered in agriculture: farms, fields, orchards, vineyards as far as the eye can see. In fact, Apt has been the marketplace for the region for centuries. The Saturday market is the biggest and oldest to be found. It stretches from one end of town to the other and weaves through all the old cobbled streets and ancient alleys.

We don’t think we have a particular style. Utility is our goal. Everything must work in our spaces. The pieces need to “earn their keep.” Nothing sits on a shelf because it is pretty.  We have a strong American eye for simplicity and always buy only what we love and want to live with forever. We do not have an easy time buying French furnishings generally–too many curves, too elaborate, too French is our biggest challenge. With the exception of their ancient homespun peasant cloth; We can never get enough of this.

What are your favorite design elements about the home?
We can only afford small spaces that are a real challenge to make livable.  This is where Paul thrives..  He loves making the impossible into a cozy nest.. With these spaces he counts on extending the natural light.  fooling the eye to feel bigger..  The ceilings are 12″ high, so the volume is amazing. They are hard to photograph well but to live in them is remarkable. Fireplaces are an absolute in our design demands.  They are the center or the soul of a home to us. We could not build or live in a space without a fireplace… or seven.

Tell us about Apt. What do you love about the town?
Apt is famous for production and supplies of candied fruits for the world as well as the pottery that has been produced from the earth here for centuries. Apt doesn’t have “curb appeal,” but it’s at the beginning (or end) of the Luberon and still affordable so lots of young families and business booms. It is a place you need to dig deeply and discover. Not everyone likes this. We love the challenge of finding beauty in  a town that hides its history, culture and beauty. It is all there. One must look harder, dig deeper and look upward–the steeples abound.

Round-Up: Farm Cottages

09.23.2011 | by: Meghan

 


About this time every year, when the leaves are just starting to turn, I get a clockwork urge to spend a weekend on a farm. I’m not too picky about the particulars–chickens or cows, a sprawling apple orchard or tidy rows of vegetables–as long as there’s the possibility of a farm chore or two and plenty of pretty acreage to explore, leaves crunching underfoot. We stayed at Folsom Inn (#2 below) in the spring, and loved watching the sheep amble across our bedroom window.

From the top:
1. Mast Farm Inn/Banner Elk, North Carolina 2. Folsom Inn/Marion, Alabama 3. Farmhouse Inn at Robinson Farm/Woodstock, Vermont 4. Century Farms/Suttons Bay, Michigan 5. Little Sugar River Farm/Albany, Wisconsin